I Ran For Chocolate

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This weekend was the big 15K race I signed up for with one of my best friends this summer, the Hot Chocolate 15K in Columbus. When she asked me to do this race back in June, we had just completed a 5K race, and I couldn’t run more than 3 miles at a time. Naturally, I told her no. I can’t run 10 miles! Are you nuts?!

But then I called back an hour later after some more thought. Why not?! Why can’t I at the very least try?!

And so we set out on a mission: to complete the Hot Chocolate 15K. Of course, I questioned myself many times along the way, especially in the beginning. November seemed SO far away in June, and we were amping up our training during the summer and into a VERY hot Michigan fall. Many mornings it was torture waking at 5 AM to run. But having a buddy for accountability and engaging in proper training, eating better, and dedicating myself to a goal really did pay dividends.

I went into the race with three 10-mile runs under my belt, and all that hard work came to fruition on Sunday when we crossed the finish line in Columbus together.

The race itself is super-organized and fun; unlike the big qualifying runs, this one is just for kicks and it benefits Make-A-Wish, a charity I love and support. Rest stops include candy and chocolate and water — though I just took the tiniest sip of water at each stop, worried about cramping up. The candy looked fun and like a quick energy boost, but my stomach is so fickle I wasn’t about to get side-tracked.

While there wasn’t the wild cheering and people-lined streets like at the Detroit relay I ran last month, running it with one of my besties was incredible and made it so much fun. To be honest, I assumed we wouldn’t run together given that her pace is quicker than mine, but we evened out around mile 3 and stuck together til the finish line, pushing each other along when our legs felt like they were collapsing under us and offering words of encouragement when we felt like we were dying!

After it was done, we both agreed it felt much harder than our other 10-mile runs, and we think a couple things played into this. First, it was a course we didn’t know at all — some parts were hilly and there was even a cobble-stoned street! Second, it was HOT. The temp was 65 at 8 AM in Ohio in November. Yea, that’s insane. Third, it was raining the whole time — not a steady cool-you-off-rain but rather an obnoxious drizzle which meant 100% humidity mixed with sweat that you could never get cooled off. In fact, I dumped water on my head at two water stops just to cool my body temperature. None of these things are things we could have controlled.

But for as hard as it felt, the city of Columbus is beautiful, which helped keep my eye on the prize even when it got tough. The race takes runners through three sections — several miles along High Street (where we spotted our shopping and dining options for later!), along a lovely river-front trail, and then back through some beautiful old neighborhoods. The variety of scenery was lovely and I didn’t even put on any music; I just tried to focus on my breathing. I did get a side stitch around mile 7 which I tried to just push through, but I still got significantly slower miles 8 and 9.

It didn’t matter — soon we rounded the last corner for the quarter-mile stretch to the finish line and we busted booty to cross. We hugged, slapped five, got our medals, and jubilantly posed for the race photographer. After some serious stretching and calls/texts to our families, we headed for the chocolate tent and the finisher mug does NOT disappoint!

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Even though we’d been sweating like crazy, by the time we sat down we were chilled to the core and the hot chocolate went down smooth and easy – delish! We headed back to the hotel and, after showers, we treated ourselves to bellinis and the most delicious brunch before heading back to the hotel to chill the hell out with some yummy buckeyes and binge watch Chopped on the Food Network til we headed our for shopping and dinner, followed by bellinis in bed while we watched Pitch Perfect that night. Can you say perfect day?! Neither of us ever have the opportunity to just sit and lounge in our jammies with nowhere to be and no one to care for and no work or housework to do or creative passion to pursue … it was positively heavenly.

The race is over now and, like many wise runners have warned me, there is an inevitable sense of depression after something so big is over. But I’m not giving into it or stopping my training. In fact, I plan to run in Kansas City this week (work trip) and I am already plotting my next race, the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon in April! That’s the furthest distance I have any desire to reach — so don’t even ask me about a marathon. #nothappening. But I am excited for a new goal — and have plenty of time to train.

Looking back on this training period, I realize how it has been life-changing. Along the way, I’ve gained a ton of faith in my own physical potential — I’m stronger than I thought I was! And I’ve lost seven of my “Trump pounds” (the weight I gained between fall 2016 and August 2017). I’d call those both big wins. What’s more, I love knowing that I can set a goal and strive for it. And I appreciate my body so much more than ever before. No, it isn’t skinny or as lean as I’d like to be or feel and I still have pounds to lose, but I am so proud of these legs that have carried me so many miles and so proud of this head which stayed in the game.

I owe much of this to my running buddy who inspired, encouraged, and pushed me. I’m so proud of us — we did it!!!! ❤

 

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